When I think of classic films, my mind often wanders to my own favorites: Auntie Mame, with the indomitable Rosalind Russell; Carmen Jones, starring Ms. Dorothy Dandridge; and Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn.
For me, a classic film is one that was made in the early decades of the 20th century. Then, again, it’s because my mother exposed me to them from a young age. I was named after Kim Novak, after all.
Nowadays, films released in the 1980s are considered classic. Working Girl comes to mind. To me, that’s a classic. A woman claws her way to the top, while looking hot. But putting a microscope on the 1987 version of Wall Street, I’m hard pressed to find a classic film.
In that film, Michael Douglas gives a rousing performance as Gordon Gekko, a ruthless takeover man full of golden nuggets like “Greed is good” and “Money never sleeps, kid.” It is Douglas’ performance that most people remember. Other than that, the film appeared dull to me. The acting is sub-par. Charlie Sheen was still wet behind the ears in his performance as Bud Fox and Darryl Hannah’s Darien is completely annoying.
Yet, I’m sure it makes total sense that director Oliver Stone would make yet another Wall Street film, because America was just scrambling for another one in these times of economic hardship. In this one, called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (catchy title, huh?), Stone tackles the near collapse of the financial system and answers a few of the questions fans of the first film had, all in one tight little movie.
The Bud Fox-esque character is now named Jake Moore (played by Shia LeBeouf), a stockbroker who becomes Gekko’s new puppet. Gekko uses Jake to get to his daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), whom we didn’t know he even had in the first film.
In The Sequel, screen-writers Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, with characters by Stone and Stanley Weiser, create a world of chaos and take a hard look at the state of the economy which my generation, the Millennials, now have the task of dealing with, and turns our minds to the state of the economy in real life.
The prospects for the new generation in the job, real estate and financial markets have dwindled considerably compared to those of our parents. And, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the same people who helped get the country into its dire economic state were rewarded with a bailout.
But, like the first film, we can’t just point the finger at Wall Street, without pointing fingers at ourselves. We are the ones who secured loans we couldn’t pay back for things we couldn’t afford, like gigantic houses and luxury cars.
Loeb and company have a somewhat solid film in that they address the financial climate of today, making the film topical. But, there isn’t much of a plot. The most I could say about this plot is that Gordon Gekko gets out of jail, writes a book, tries to get close to his daughter and makes a triumphant come-back, the sub plot being the financial crisis.
The rest is a little too neat. Jake and Winnie have a little dust-up but there’s no question that they will work it out. Josh Brolin’s Bretton James is a scoundrel and he gets his comeuppance, because, why wouldn’t director Stone have the new villain in the latest version of Wall Street get his just reward?
Other actors making appearances in Money Never Sleeps include Sheen’s Bud Fox, who shows that he’s better than ever after saving Bluestar Airport and changing it into a private jet company that he’s sold for millions upon millions of dollars. Eli Wallach is still alive and kicking as Jules Steinhardt, Bretton’s only boss and mentor. Wallach’s Jules is a bit of a nut case, with his little bird noises, but the old man can’t be counted out just yet.
Susan Sarandon gets too minimal an appearance as Jake’s mother and the sole representation of the real estate brokers who made a good living flipping houses until the housing bubble burst and she’s left to stop bleeding her son dry for money and get a “real job”– her words, not mine.
Fans of Michael Douglas’ Gekko in the first Wall Street will consider themselves treated to more fun with Gekko in Money Never Sleeps.
Those who are not fans should wait for the DVD, because it’s more indicative of the value of the film. You may not want to spend that hard earned $10-plus on this one.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com.